Polar bears are amazing, living in an amazing environment!
There is another amazing creature in the Arctic, a summer visitor!
They understand climate and there is much we can learn from them to understand CO2.
They lead us to answer some big questions:
What if it’s not about burning coal?
What if CO2 is not the main contributor to Global Warming?
What if there are different questions to ask and study?
“Science” knows that:
– CO2 is increasing faster and faster since starting to rise very rapidly in 1980
– Air temperature has been rising at a constant rate after 1980
– Temperature had not increased for 100 years of the industrial revolution
– Area of sea ice over the Arctic Ocean has been decreasing since 1995
– Models based on CO2 acting as a gas blanket do indeed predict doom.
“Settled Science”, knowing all this, decides that to save our planet:
– CO2 must be the demon that must be controlled;
– Concentration is much too high and must be lowered immediately
– It may be too late to save the planet;
– The tipping point may have been passed:
– No price is too high to save the Bears, the planet, and us.
But what if these things that we measure are like wheels on a car, all controlled and directed by a steering wheel we do not yet recognize or understand?
Lets look for answers by understanding why CO2 concentration is running away.
The amazing summer visitor to the North Pole is called the Arctic Tern. Many thousands of Terns fly over 12,000 miles each spring to spend summers with the Polar Bears. They can fly over 300 miles a day. Rather than working hard by flapping their wings, they glide effortlessly much of the time. They can even sleep while they glide. Before winter sets in, they reverse course flying 12,000 miles south. Understanding how they glide can teach us about CO2 concentration.
Yes, of course it sounds ridiculous but please read on. It is really basic science.
They are not the only birds that glide or soar. Eagles, Hawks, Condors , Gulls, Storks, Albatross etc. can soar and glide. Man has also learned how to soar in gliders and sailplanes. All take advantage of the science of rising air currents. Gliding and Soaring are possible wherever air is rising as it does flowing up hills, or up and over ridges or mountain sides, or over a “thermal”.
“Thermals”, our main interest, are rising columns of air and occur over hot places on the ground like over cities with black roads and roofs, or over a power plant with a plume of rising stack gas.
Thermals, the column of rising air, can rise thousands of feet, and surprise, they do not disperse but maintain their slender shape while they rise.
( Go to aviationweather.ws scroll down to Chapter 16 and select Thermal soaring)
Embed the ‘slender waist’ feature of Figure 147 in your mind; it is a very important feature.
Heat sources include chimneys, factories and cities.
There are many more examples:
1 At a kitchen stove, a pot of boiling water creates a column of low density water vapor.
2 Air over a city is warmer and less dense than surrounding air.
Asphalt roads, roofs and parking lots absorb sunlight, become hot and heat city air.
Cities use a lot of energy in lights, factory and office equipment, cars and trucks.
Trees are plentiful in most cities transpiring low density water vapor.
3 Clouds demonstrate the slender waist principle; they do not disperse as they drift along; there is little turbulence at their altitude to aid dispersion. Clouds float at an altitude where their mixture of very small water droplets and humid air equals the density of surrounding air.
THERMALS AND CO2 CONCENTRATION
It is time for some simple science explaining the connection of ‘thermals’ to CO2 concentration.
Simple chemistry that you might have learned in high school is useful but not required to understand this connection.
We, the people, are burning a lot of clean burning natural gas, and burning more every day.
What happens to the gas that goes up the stack? We need to know to understand CO2.
First the Chemistry:
Methane, is chemically CH4, made of carbon and hydrogen; both react with oxygen.
CH4 + air ( oxygen and nitrogen ) => CO2 + 2 H2O + the Nitrogen from the air.
CO2 is a dense gas, 1.5 times as dense as air and if pure it will ‘sink’ to the ground.
H2O vapor is very light, about half as dense as air. Water vapor rises rapidly.
Due to the water vapor, the exhaust gas is 20% lighter than air; and it rises, rapidly.
Each power plant that burns natural gas, creates a lot of stack gas that is less dense than air.
As it leaves the power plant it is like a hot air balloon that rises fast and far.
SO, WE HAVE THERMALS, SO WHAT?? WHY IS IT IMPORTANT??
THE NEXT STEP IS SIMPLE PHYSICS:
We need to ask, what happens to the rising column of CO2 & water-vapor?
1 Until the water vapor is condensed this “THERMAL” remains less dense than air and keeps rising, and rising, and rising into the atmosphere.
2 There are no forests, or bodies of water in the upper atmosphere to remove CO2.
3 In time, CO2 molecules disperse into the entire atmosphere increasing CO2 concentration.
4 Green plants and water absorb a lot of CO2 but do not keep up with our present burn rate.
5 Further, CO2 from burning natural gas enters the atmosphere at very high altitudes, far from the green plants and trees that convert the CO2 into cellulose.
6 All wind/solar power is intermittent; usually a gas burning turbine is used as back-up.
7 The more natural gas we burn, the higher the CO2 concentration becomes.
8 Burning more natural gas each day means the concentration of CO2 in our air must rise.
CO2 HAS INCREASED, AND IT MUST CONTINUE TO INCREASE, & RAPIDLY.
CHEMISTRY IS CORRECT. PHYSICS IS CORRECT AND WORKS.
SO CO2 INCREASES; SO WHAT? WHAT DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH ANYTHING?
Think it through, carefully!
Until there is economical battery or other standby power, shutting down coal and nuclear and installing intermittent solar/wind will require more gas burning plants – which will continue increasing CO2 concentration drastically.
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Credits will be gratefully given in a future issue since this is an on-going conversation.
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Illustrations courtesy of aviationweather.ws